Trump rewrites history as Russia probe pressure mounts

The looming verdict for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and new questions about what exact...

Posted: Aug 20, 2018 1:13 PM
Updated: Aug 20, 2018 1:13 PM

The looming verdict for President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and new questions about what exactly the White House counsel told special counsel investigators, combined with Trump's increasingly combustible Twitter feed, have put the feeling of climax in the air.

Jury deliberations in Paul Manafort's first (of two) trials are expected to end this week, and whether special counsel Robert Mueller can secure a guilty verdict against the man who led Trump's campaign will be a pivotal moment for the probe, which Trump continues to attack as a "witch hunt."

Communism

Continents and regions

Don McGahn

Donald Trump

Eastern Europe

Europe

Forms of government

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Investigations

Michael Cohen

Misc people

Political Figures - US

Politics

Richard Nixon

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

US federal government

White House

Companies

Court trials

Law and legal system

Trial and procedure

Twitter

Donald McGahn

Elections and campaigns

Rudy Giuliani

Alongside the news that White House counsel Don McGahn spent more than 30 hours with investigators, it seems that Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible conspiracy has tentacles that could be moving in directions the public does not yet understand.

A source told CNN that McGahn did not provide information that would be incriminating to the President, but Trump's lawyers also admitted they did not get a readout from the top White House lawyer about what he said.

It bears mentioning on a daily basis that no matter what happens, Trump's presidency will make history; the US has never encountered an administration like Trump's, where the chief executive is convinced the government he leads is out to get him.

And history was much on Trump's mind as he dispatched his takes on Watergate and McCarthyism on his Twitter feed over the weekend.

Rewriting history

Trump was alleging McCarthyism over the weekend, but it's the Watergate comparisons he rejects that seem to be sticking.

It was Richard Nixon's White House counsel John Dean who flipped on Nixon and helped bring him down. In Trump's telling, Dean is a villain of the Watergate saga because he told the truth about his boss, the president.

Trump called Dean a "RAT" on Twitter on Sunday and denied the comparison, but The New York Times reported officials in Trump's legal team don't actually know what McGahn might have said before Mueller's team.

Trump's legal team on Monday was trying to clean up an odd declaration by Rudy Giuliani over the weekend that "truth isn't truth" as he sought to explain why Trump shouldn't testify before Mueller because he could get caught in a lie.

"When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he's going to tell the truth and he shouldn't worry, well, that's so silly because it's somebody's version of the truth. Not the truth," Giuliani told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday morning during "Meet the Press."

By Monday Giuliani was recalibrating on Twitter:

"My statement was not meant as a pontification on moral theology but one referring to the situation where two people make precisely contradictory statements, the classic "he said,she said" puzzle. Sometimes further inquiry can reveal the truth other times it doesn't."

Studying McCarthyism

Watergate wasn't the only history Trump was rewriting Sunday, as he tried to paint Mueller as a latter-day Joseph McCarthy, the notorious anti-Communist crusader of the 1950s whose name became a stand-in for government overreach.

Coincidentally, Giuliani made sure to wonder how Trump's other new favorite foe, former CIA Director John Brennan, became CIA director even though he once voted for a communist "in the midst of the Cold War."

Brennan has publicly talked about that vote -- for Gus Hall for president in the 1970s -- but Trump was more concerned with the '50s on Sunday.

"Study the late Joseph McCarthy, because we are now in period with Mueller and his gang that make Joseph McCarthy look like a baby! Rigged Witch Hunt!" Trump said on Twitter.

The President may very well have studied McCarthy; in New York in the '70s, Trump was a protege of Roy Cohn, the lawyer who decades earlier helped McCarthy try to root out communists and allege ties to the Soviet Union.

McCarthy's effort, now seen almost universally as a stain on the country, saw him and Cohn run wild as they ruined lives and ginned up the Red Scare, alleging a communist infiltration in the State Department and producing a list of names he said were the culprits. He later held hearings about alleged communist sympathies in the Army. (Stylistically, McCarthy's secret list of communists and the innuendo he used to frighten Americans with a communist conspiracy theory shares more similarities with Trump's allegations of a "deep state" and his growing list of current and former government officials, including Brennan, whose security clearances Trump has either revoked or is reviewing).

Cohn, by the way, later worked with Roger Stone, an early Trump political ally who now figures in the Mueller investigation.

Trump's ties to McCarthy are stronger than any comparison of McCarthy to Mueller, who is not a senator trying to use public hearings and reports for political gain, but rather a special counsel who by all accounts is proceeding quietly and methodically.

Verdict nears for former Trump campaign chief

The McCarthy allusion was the latest revisionist history lesson from Trump as the country waits for jurors to finish deliberating in the trial of Trump's former campaign chairman in Alexandria, Virginia, on tax evasion and fraud charges.

Earlier this month, Trump made the unwelcome comparison between that former campaign boss, Paul Manafort, and Al Capone, the infamous mob boss ultimately brought down by the IRS on tax evasion charges.

Meanwhile, it's unclear to everyone but Mueller and his team what they'll ultimately report. And it became clear this weekend, after Trump lashed out following a series of stories in The New York Times about White House counsel McGahn, who Trump says he early on encouraged him to cooperate with Mueller. The Times later wrote -- and a source confirmed to CNN -- that the White House is unclear what information McGahn may have shared with Mueller, a potentially frightening development for Trump, since McGahn could be witness to Trump's alleged efforts to quash quash or minimize the Russian investigation.

Don McGahn in the role of John Dean?

Trump lashed out in a two-part Twitter statement Sunday, mixing a Watergate allusion with another McCarthy one.

"The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type 'RAT.' But I allowed him and all others to testify - I didn't have to. I have nothing to hide......

"....and have demanded transparency so that this Rigged and Disgusting Witch Hunt can come to a close. So many lives have been ruined over nothing - McCarthyism at its WORST! Yet Mueller & his gang of Dems refuse to look at the real crimes on the other side - Media is even worse!"

Speaking later Sunday on CNN, Dean responded, saying he'd be honored to be on a list of Trump's enemies, and pointing out that Trump should worry about McGahn's testimony, since McGahn's role is to be the White House's lawyer, not Trump's.

"You've got to put this in a larger perspective," Dean said on CNN. "McGahn is doing what he should do, and what was resolved after Watergate as to who is the client of the White House counsel. The client was presumed when I was there to be Nixon. The president. Today, it's clear that it is not the case. It's the Office of the President he represents, and there can be real differences between the incumbent president and the office itself, and McGahn represents the office."

While he held the same White House title as McGahn, Dean is also featuring in another of the dramas that swirls around Trump and the current and former aides talking to authorities.

The attorney representing former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen told Politico he has been consulting Dean on a regular basis. Cohen, facing his own legal problems, has indicated he could cooperate with Mueller.

"I certainly don't want to raise expectations that Mr. Cohen has anything like the level of deep involvement and detailed knowledge that John Dean had in the Nixon White House as a witness to Nixon's crimes, but I did see some similarities and wanted to learn from what John went through," Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis told Politico.

Dean cooperated with prosecutors and ultimately testified about Nixon's misdeeds at the Watergate hearings and served four months in prison for his own obstruction of justice. It's not clear what role if any McGahn might play in Mueller's final report, whatever it might say, despite mounting pressure from Giuliani to get it out of the way before November elections.

Another historical note, since Trump is conflating Watergate and McCarthyism, is that a key ally of McCarthy's before his efforts went fully off the rails was none other than Richard Nixon.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct Paul Manafort's former title. He was Donald Trump's campaign chairman.

Huntsville
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Florence
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 71°
Fayetteville
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Overcast
66° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 66°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131988

Reported Deaths: 2304
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19123337
Mobile13122290
Montgomery8688173
Madison763075
Tuscaloosa7323114
Lee575159
Shelby571950
Baldwin508749
Marshall387943
Calhoun337439
Etowah336547
Morgan321426
Houston272722
Elmore255847
DeKalb237119
St. Clair224335
Walker224380
Talladega207726
Limestone200119
Cullman186218
Dallas174926
Franklin174528
Russell17312
Autauga169124
Lauderdale165333
Colbert160926
Escambia156425
Blount156014
Jackson151611
Chilton150227
Dale133343
Covington131127
Coffee12838
Pike11619
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113242
Clarke105517
Marion94828
Butler91138
Barbour8387
Winston71612
Marengo70119
Lowndes64927
Pickens63814
Bibb63610
Randolph62212
Hale61528
Lawrence59220
Bullock59114
Geneva5814
Monroe5768
Cherokee56916
Clay5527
Washington54913
Perry5386
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52411
Crenshaw52331
Macon47820
Henry4754
Fayette4269
Sumter41819
Lamar3532
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3326
Greene30015
Coosa1653
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 184409

Reported Deaths: 2233
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby30155447
Davidson26017293
Hamilton914489
Rutherford903187
Knox899872
Williamson508936
Sumner470593
Wilson337343
Putnam307037
Out of TN301324
Montgomery296243
Unassigned28916
Bradley285816
Madison270156
Sevier251813
Blount244023
Maury226023
Washington217933
Robertson217233
Sullivan205431
Hamblen183825
Tipton173917
Trousdale16517
Gibson153819
Hardeman153225
Wayne14805
Bedford130916
Dyer127912
Dickson119913
Cumberland115317
Fayette114318
Anderson113311
Henderson113119
Carter112627
Weakley111819
Loudon11156
Coffee110812
Greene110737
Obion10889
McMinn106824
Jefferson106614
Macon102020
Warren10127
Monroe100116
Lawrence97011
Hardin96714
Lauderdale93615
Haywood92116
Lake9152
Franklin9137
Bledsoe8454
Roane8414
Carroll83217
McNairy81016
Cheatham79010
White7849
Rhea78111
Hawkins77016
Cocke7349
Marshall7175
Overton6805
Smith67810
Johnson6482
Henry6029
Chester5919
Lincoln5791
Giles56817
DeKalb54611
Hickman5385
Crockett51319
Marion5007
Decatur4786
Fentress4363
Claiborne4304
Campbell4193
Polk37811
Grainger3503
Union3371
Benton3329
Jackson3055
Morgan3053
Unicoi2801
Cannon2760
Grundy2495
Humphreys2323
Sequatchie2233
Meigs2213
Clay2105
Scott2002
Houston1860
Lewis1771
Stewart1752
Moore1541
Van Buren1530
Perry1460
Hancock1063
Pickett982

Community Events